The grim reaper walks into a bar and says, “why so glum?”

It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. The promise of summer. And all the freedom it brings. Or, for some of us, complete and utter enslavement. 

You can’t pick up a magazine from this day until September without reading a weight loss success story. About some woman who hit rock bottom. And every rock bottom is different.

I read one story this week where the author admitted she’d never been thin. Well, I’ve been thin but I’ve never been what you call free. Completely carefree. The kind of carefree that involves bare shoulders and halter tops. And shorts with cute shoes. And swimming in tiny swimsuits. And going to clubs and dancing. And little black dresses. And flirting {ok, I totally flirt}.      

I haven’t worn shorts or sleeveless tops in a decade. I wear sweaters in the summer. And keep the thermostat in my house at a temperature unbearably cold to others. 

It’s funny…all my possessions, everything I own…is meticulously chosen and cared for. Every inch of my car and home is reflected in some stunning and unique way. I’m the person you’d most want to get a gift from. Even my file folders are beautiful…down to the font on the labels. I live in hyperbole. Everything is the best. And if I can’t afford the best, I’d rather wait for it than settle for mediocre. But when it comes to my body, I’m not even in the vicinity of best.

Maybe I use weight to cushion myself from a world that can seem heartbreaking, or to create boundaries where I would be too polite to have them otherwise. Maybe it’s because I resent the importance placed on physical attraction and have chosen to rebel. Maybe I eat because I’m stressed. Or comfortable. Or bored. Or happy. Or to bond with whomever happens to be sitting next to me. Maybe it’s because I believe in brownies more than I believe in God. Maybe it’s all of those things.  

I remember having abs and cheekbones and confidence and skinny jeans once. But now it’s like a mist. A dream I had once when I was 15. And for a minute in my 30’s {wait, I’m still in my 30’s}. I don’t remember that confident feeling. You know, that feeling when you’re most alive and every thing around you looks better and smells better and sounds better and tastes better…and feels amazing? I don’t know if I’ve ever felt “stunning.” I remember hearing a man describe a woman as “stunning” once. Just once, I silently vowed, I would feel “stunning.” 

But I genuinely wonder…how do you wake up everyday with a burning desire to push yourself if you don’t even know what stunning feels like? I can’t be one of those people who just loses weight. I have to be one of those people who makes jaws drop when this is all said and done {and most importantly, my jaw}.   

I once joined an online fitness forum. I still have some of those delightful women as Facebook friends. They write post after post about their workouts for the day. All the details of their squats and sets and reps. And their walls are one picture after another of beautifully toned bodies and inspirational quotes. And I wonder what that feels like…to do something just for yourself. 

I write this crossing my fingers that I won’t get any comments about how I should love myself just the way I am or how “I can do it!” While I appreciate the sentiment, I’m not looking for platitudes. I’m writing this because – more than being funny – I want to be authentic. And sometimes we all hit rock bottom. Today is mine. Sink or swim, this is it.

Merriam-Webster defines hope as “cherishing a desire with expectation of obtainment.” Tonight, I will cherish the desire to find hope. And hopefully one day I can say “Look, it was as bad as this. And then it wasn’t.” 

{ 4 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Jennie

    I want you to know I am so sorry about your struggles. I will pray for you and pray that tomorrow marks the first day in a path toward that feeling you crave. I think what you have written will resonate with many people and make them not feel alone. I hope you know that you are not alone either.

  2. Jennie

    I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you and wishing you the best.

  3. e.j.jones

    Thanks, Jennie!

    One of my favorite film quotes is from Shall We Dance (2004). Beverly (played by Susan Sarandon) says, “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things…all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

    Writers, and the readers who read them, share an intimate connection. Thank you for being my witness…in the “good things, the bad things, the terrible things, and the mundane things.” Stay tuned for the good things.

  4. Jennie

    Oh, E.J., that is so nice and warms my heart. I just read the post you sent out today and I am so pleased things are looking up. And, what a great quote!

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